Set Sail in 1805! A Game Review of GMT’s Age of Sail Game.
1805 Sea of Glory Game Review. Publisher: GMT Games LLC Designer: Phil C. Fry Price: $59.00 Retail
Passed Inspection: Intriguing strategy.
Failed Basic: Rules are detailed and well-defined, but certain areas of details need additional illustrations or explanations for players who may not be as familiar with this type of game play. An online tutorial, or play through would go a long way to help with setup and basic game play.
Intro: If you love history, attention to detail, strategy and tactics, organizing and managing an army of pieces, then you will find 1805 Sea of Glory an intriguing and engaging game. Rest your chin on your hand and begin strategizing and planning your moves.
Description: This is a two-player game that pits France and Spain, the Allies, against the blockade of the British during the time of Napoleon. The Allies are attempting to break out if they can and mount raids against the British. The British have a very tight blockade meant to squeeze the Allies and keep provisions from moving and hold them in place. Both the British and the Allies face another adversary, the weather, and are at the mercy of its fickle nature. Both players deal with logistical difficulties such as manpower and the Allies need to be prepared to jump at any opportunity that arises to get ships out of port and then keep from being spotted by British fleets.
The game will need a bit of space to set up with the centerpiece being a 22×34 inch colorful map and two 11×17 inch fleet and port tracking sheets that should be hidden from each player. Some chits need to be set up in opaque containers for drawing during game play and need to be located in the play area also.
Players set up their ship chits according to starting guidelines on their tracking sheets and fleets represented by wooden blocks on the map for moving and positioning during play. Players then follow through the administrative and active turns according to a defined list. Each player then plans and moves their fleets, repairs ships and develops strategies. Fleets that encounter each other on the map if the situation is right may enter into a battle. The ships in both fleets are moved from the tracking sheets and lined to fight on the battle board which is on the main map. Players continue to move and have encounters during game play.
The British attempt to keep the Allies from crossing the channel and invading Britain and from making successful raids. They do this by maintaining blockades and searching for fleets that were able to break the blockades. Points are awarded for ships captured or sunk. Moving fleets across the Atlantic to and from the West Indies can also affect play with expeditions and Spanish gold playing a role.
Weather plays a large part in the game. The Allies can take advantage of weather that moves British ships out of optimal blockade positions. Getting a fleet out of port to attempt raids and other maneuvers. Weather can damage ships and cause chaos during the game and prompts many decision-making changes and risks for both players.
An interesting game mechanic that allows for deception on the Allies part and creates what has been called a cat and mouse game is the use of “Fog of War” fleet blocks. They represent reports and sightings of ships and fleets that may or may not be true as intelligence and communication of the time period was slow and not always accurate. An Allied fleet that broke through a blockade could be represented by multiple fleet blocks on the map that may travel toward different destinations. The British player is not able to see which block is the real fleet and will need to make search attempts to ascertain if the reports were correct or false. Fleet sizes and composition is kept secret from each player and are not revealed until a search is successful. This leads to interesting choices for both players.
Admirals can be attached to fleets and their rankings play a part in the battles. There are also secret objectives and directives that will add additional points for each player from Emperor Napoleon and Prime Minister Pitt.
This is the basic way the game works with players maneuvering and countering until the calendar or an Allied invasion triggers the end of the game.
Summary: My conclusion is that the game is good for players who enjoy head-to-head challenges, care about historical accuracy and involved detailed strategy and play. The game is fairly complicated, but I found the system of battle for large fleet battles easily manageable and fun. Players should be prepared to alter plans based upon game variables that can throw original preparation to the wind as this can lead rethinking that could cause a level of frustration. Gameplay will last for several hours, so it is a game that players need to allow a good deal of space and time for. If players have not played this type of game before it can be even longer and possibly frustrating. Initial setup and learning of play will take a little time as the learning curve is a little steep. This may not be the type of game for the casual gamer due to the time and complextity, but for those who love the theme, period and this style of game it can become an enthralling experience.
Armchair General Rating: 85%
Solitaire Rating: 1 (1 not for solitaire, 5 suitable for solo)
About the Author: Greg Johnson works as a professor in Higher Education in the areas interdisciplinary art, photography, web and graphic design and development. He also records music, audio and is a singer/songwriter. Greg and his wife Lisa are involved in board game design with their business. An avid gamer Greg enjoys a variety of games from classic board games to table top miniatures.